We all use our voices in many different ways every day. We use our voice to talk to each other about everyday things and to connect with our friends and families in a range of ways. Over the last year, much of this connection might have been (and continues to be) via video or phone calls but it is still just as important (if not more so) than ever.
As a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), I love that I can use my voice to help children and young people find theirs. Everyone’s voice is different but we all have one thing in common – we use our voice to express our thoughts and feelings. Whether this is through speech or Alternative and Augmentative Communication methods (AAC) such as sign language, picture exchange (e.g. PECS) or Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCA) (like the system used by Lost Voice Guy). There are so many different ways to support individuals with communication difficulties to express themselves and ensure their voice is heard.
Some SLTs also work with individuals who have specific difficulties with their voice. Voice disorders are a range of conditions which affect the voice box (larynx). Voice disorders include difficulties such as hoarseness or loss of voice. There is further information about how SLTs support children and adults with Voice Disorders on the RCSLT website. The British Voice Association have also produced a handy leaflet to help us all look after our voices. This is especially important for people who use their voices in a professional capacity such as teaching or singing. Find the leaflet on their free resources page.
Voice care is important, especially with increased use of video calling and online conversations. Some healthy habits which can help to look after your voice include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Rest your voice throughout the day
- Try not to overuse your voice through shouting or whispering
- Use a microphone where appropriate
- If you are concerned about your voice, contact a Speech and Language Therapist
Since delivering my therapy sessions online, I have noticed how differently I am using my voice compared to in face to face sessions. At first, I tended to use a louder voice than was needed, which I think many of us do when communicating via video, and after a full day of therapy sessions, I noticed that my throat felt tired. I now always ensure that I have plenty of water with me on my desk and I have a good headset with microphone, which enables me to talk at a usual everyday volume and the children and their parents can still hear me easily.
This last year has been difficult and different in many ways and I feel privileged that I continue to be able to support a wide range of children and their families, (currently) via online therapy. The children really do make me smile, and it’s a pleasure supporting them to achieve their goals and enable them to make their voices heard.